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Dallas International Film Festival

The 2012 Dallas International Film Festival is over and the winners have been announced.  It was an amazing year for film and we here at Arts+Culture screened over fifteen of the films that played over the last week and a half.  I was happy to see that my favorite narrative film (‘My Way’) won the Audience award and my favorite documentary (‘Tchoupitoulas’) won the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary Feature.  Everyone did a wonderful job at the festival and I’m already hearing buzz about next year’s fest.  Keep browsers set on Arts+Culture for the most recent film reviews and news.

FAITH, LOVE & WHISKEY receives the $10,000 Grand Jury Prize for Narrative Feature

TCHOUPITOULAS receives the $10,000 Grand Jury Prize for Documentary Feature

WOLF receives the $30,000 camera rental Grand Jury Prize for the Panavision Texas Competition

DIRTY ENERGY receives the $10,000 Grand Jury Prize for the Whole Foods Environmental Visions Competition

THE INVISIBLE WAR receives the $10,000 Embrey Family Foundation Silver Heart Award

AARON BURR, PART 2, NANI and A MORNING STROLL are named winners for Best Short Film, Student Short and the REEL FX Animated Short

Audience Awards go to MY WAY for Narrative Feature, FIRST POSITION for Documentary and NANI for Short Film


Official Press Release:

DALLAS, TX, APRIL 21, 2012 – The Dallas International Film Festival presented by Boardwalk Auto Group Volkswagen Dealers announced its 2012 award winners at its annual gala, The Dallas Film Society Honors presented by the Arthur E. Benjamin Foundation and supported by the Trinity Diversified Film Fund Advisors.   In an evening where independent film and filmmakers were celebrated for their incredible work, award winners were thrilled with cash prizes and grants that totaled over $70,000.

Two kaleidoscopic films with distinct visual flair walked away with the top honors in the Narrative & Documentary Feature competitions: Kristina Nikolova’s Bulgarian film FAITH, LOVE & WHISKEY won the narrative category and Bill and Turner Ross’s TCHOUPITOULAS for documentary.   The Narrative competition jury also gave a Special Mention for Breakout Performance to Michael Rainey Jr. for LUV and a Special Mention for Acting for Kim Kold in TEDDY BEAR.

The strong lineup in this year’s Texas Competition meant the jury had a difficult decision to make, but Ya’ke Smith’s much-talked-about directorial debut WOLF was awarded the $30,000 camera package courtesy of PANAVISION.   The jury also gave a Special Mention to David Zellner’s KID-THING.

Two years to the day since Deepwater Horizon exploded and oil poured into the Gulf, Bryan D. Hopkins accepted the Environmental Visions Grand Jury Prize for his documentary DIRTY ENERGY, a personal look into the trials of the citizens directly affected by this disaster.  With only $200 in his bank account and on food stamps, Hopkins travelled to Louisiana to highlight these ongoing personal struggles that have since been forgotten in the mainstream news cycle.

For the second year running, Lauren Embrey presented the $10,000 Silver Heart Award courtesy of the Embrey Family Foundation. Inspired by the film’s courage and the need to necessitate change, Kirby Dick’s THE INVISIBLE WAR won the award as it most represented a filmmaker’s dedication to fighting injustices and creating social change for the improvement of humanity.

Dana O’Keefe’s AARON BURR, PART 2 won the Grand Jury Prize in the Shorts Competition.  A Special Mention went to Brent Hoff’s THE LOVE COMPETITION and a Special Mention for Unique Storytelling in the Student Shorts went to Afarin Eghbal’s GRANDMOTHERS.  The Grand Jury Prize winner of the Student Shorts was Justin Tipping’s NANI, which also walked away with the overall Audience Award for Best Short.  REEL FX presented the award for Best Animated Short to Grant Orchard’s A MORNING STROLL.

In the year that the International Spotlight focused on South Korea, it seemed especially fitting that the Audience Award for Best Narrative went to Kang Je-kyu’s epic MY WAY. Closer to home, Bess Kargman’s family-friendly FIRST POSITION won the Audience Award for Best Documentary.

The winners of the Grand Jury Prizes for all the competitions will each receive Movie Magic Budgeting and Scheduling software bundles from Entertainment Partners.

Presented by TXU Energy’s Michael Grasso, cash grants for the TXU Energy “Light Up the Red Carpet” Student Film Contest were handed out to students from both high schools and colleges.  Abelardo Gonzalez’s film NO BLACKOUT won the $7,500 award for Vidal M. Trevino Magnet School, Christian Vasquez’s A SPARK took the $5,000 prize for Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and Carolina Trevino’s THE ENERGY POLICE won the $2,500 award for The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA), Houston.  For colleges, the prize money was split between the winners and their schools. Dillon White and North Lake College will share the $7,500 award for ZAP!, Edgar Cortes of The Art Institute of Dallas will share the $5,000 award for DOMI CILE, and Wojciech Stypko of the University of North Texas will share the $2,500 award for MAN POWER.

The film awards were interspersed through the evening with touching tributes to men and women in the film industry who have each made a significant contribution to modern cinema. The Texas Avery Animation Award presented by REEL FX was given to the animator Glen Keane who is known for creating the hero and/or heroine in the much-loved animated classics (ALADDIN, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST). Presenting Sponsor Arthur E. Benjamin highlighted the tireless work that film industry veteran Eric Pleskow has undertaken in his career as CEO of both United Artists and Orion Pictures.  The 2012 Dallas Film Society Honors represented a very personal connection with Benjamin as his beloved Uncle, the late Robert S. Benjamin, worked for Pleskow for many years. To be asked to present the Lifetime Achievement Tribute to Pleskow was a huge honor for Benjamin.

“I feel the Dallas Film Society Honors this year is a true example of The Circle of Life,” said Arthur E. Benjamin. “My Uncle Bob loved working for Eric Pleskow, so for me to be here tonight and have the opportunity to publicly congratulate him is a real honor.”

On receiving the Dallas Shining Star Award, Academy Award Nominee Gabourey Sidibe (PRECIOUS) expressed how special it was to be in a room with students who are practicing their art and how in awe she is of their bravery to do what they love.  Academy Award winner, Ronald L. Schwary then presented Bernie Pollack, a legend in costume design, with a Dallas Star Award complete with two very personal tributes from Robert Redford and Harrison Ford, recorded especially for Pollack’s recognition in Dallas. In receiving the award, Pollack quipped “I look at this speech as a costume designer, I want to keep it long enough to cover the subject but short enough to keep it interesting!”

Academy Award Winner Laura Linney (YOU CAN COUNT ON ME, THE TRUMAN SHOW, THE SAVAGES) accepted her Dallas Star Award with grace and humility and commented on the positive effect film festivals can have on people’s lives. The guests were touched by the deep respect Linney and Sidibe, her co-star in “The Big C”, showed each other throughout the evening.

“This year’s Dallas Film Society Honors paid tribute to both the indie filmmaker and the film industry veteran,” said James Faust, artistic director of the Dallas Film Society. “From Ya’ke Smith with his directorial debut to Eric Pleskow who has scores of films under his belt, from acknowledging Gabourey Sidibe’s rising star to Laura Linney’s expansive career, we want to applaud the new visionaries alongside those who have the breadth of experience that most can only dream about.  This Honors event is our way of giving back to those who have impacted and continue to impact the face of cinema.  I am exceptionally proud of the winners this year.”

Narrative Feature: FAITH, LOVE AND WHISKEY
Dir:  Kristina Nikolova

Special Mention, Breakout Performance: LUV, Michael Rainey Jr.

Special Mention, Acting: TEDDY BEAR, Kim Kold

Documentary Feature: TCHOUPITOULAS
Dirs: Bill Ross, Turner Ross

PANAVISION Texas Filmmaker Award: WOLF
Dir: Ya’Ke Smith

Special Mention: KID-THING
Dir:  David Zellner

Silver Heart Award: THE INVISIBLE WAR
Dir:  Kirby Dick

Environmental Visions Grand Jury Prize: DIRTY ENERGY
Dir: Bryan D. Hopkins

Grand Jury Prize Short: AARON BURR, PART 2
Dir: Dana O’Keefe

Special Mention Short: THE LOVE COMPETITION
Dir:  Brent Hoff

Grand Jury Prize for Student Short: NANI
Dir: Justin Tipping

Special Mention Student Short, Unique Storytelling: GRANDMOTHERS
Dir:  Afarin Eghbal

Grand Jury Prize, Animated Short: A MORNING STROLL
Dir: Grant Orchard

DIR: Kang Je Kyu
Cast:  Jang Dong-gun, Joe Odagiri, Fan Bing-bing, Kim In-kwon, Do Ji-han, Han Seung-hyun

DIR: Bess Kargman

DIR: Justin Tipping

$7,500 prize winner – NO BLACKOUT
DIR: Abelardo Gonzalez
$5,000 prize winner – A SPARK
DIR: Christian Vasquez
$2,500 prize winner – THE ENERGY POLICE
DIR: Carolina Trevino

$7,500 prize winner – ZAP!
DIR: Dillon White
$5,000 prize winner – DOMI CILE
DIR: Edgar Cortes
$2,500 prize winner – MAN POWER
DIR: Wojciech Stypko


Bryan Kluger is the film editor and film critic for Arts+Culture Magazine, and the editor-in-chief of Boomstick Comics.